, Volume 68, Issue 2, pp 231–234 | Cite as

Indirect effects of granivory by harvester ants: plant species composition and reproductive increase near ant nests

  • Steven W. Rissing
Original Papers


Of 36 plant species surveyed, 6 were significantly associated with nests of the desert seed-harvester ant Veromessor pergandei or Pogonomyrmex rugosus; two other plant species were significantly absent from ant nests. Seeds of two common desert annuals, Schismus arabicus and Plantago insularis, realize a 15.6 and 6.5 fold increase (respectively) in number of fruits or seeds produced per plant growing in ant nest refuse piles compared to nearby controls. Mass of individual S. arabicus seed produced by plants growing in refuse piles also increased significantly. Schismus arabicus, P. insularis and other plants associated with ant nests do not have seeds with obvious appendages attractive to ants. Dispersal and reproductive increase of such seeds may represent a relatively primitive form of ant-plant dispersal devoid of seed morphological specializations. Alternatively, evolution of specialized seed structures for dispersal may be precluded by the assemblage of North American seed-harvester ants whose workers are significantly larger than those ants normally associated with elaiosome-attached seed dispersal. Large worker size may permit consumption of elaiosome and seed.


Plant Species Indirect Effect Species Composition Seed Dispersal Morphological Specialization 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven W. Rissing
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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